The legendary director won't be following Quentin Tarantino's footsteps, and delivers a passionate objection to releasing extended cuts of films.

By James Hibberd
October 16, 2019 at 09:36 AM EDT
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Martin Scorsese is never going to release an extended so-called “director’s cut” version of his classics like Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull, The Wolf of Wall Street or The Departed.

EW spoke to Scorsese about his acclaimed upcoming Netflix film The Irishman and asked if fans could eventually see longer cuts of his previous classics, perhaps on the streaming service itself.

After all, Netflix let the director to release The Irishman at an epic three-and-a-half hour running time, making it his longest dramatic film. His original Wolf of Wall Street cut was reportedly a full hour longer than what eventually played in theaters. And Quentin Tarantino recently released an extended cut of Hateful Eight on Netflix, and is also planning to release longer versions of Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. So would Scorsese likewise be interested in doing the same with one of his fan-favorite titles that went through the studio system now that he’s in business with Netflix?

“No, no, no, no, no!” the Oscar-winner replied, and then Scorsese gave a passionate defense to the idea that there is only one true cut of a movie barring the most extreme circumstances — such as a studio taking the film away from the director and recutting it against their wishes. Also, the director explained how the very concept of a “director’s cut” is often misunderstood and used as a marketing term.

“The director’s cut is the film that’s releasedunless it’s been taken away from the director by the financiers and the studio,” Scorsese says. “[The director] has made their decisions based on the process they were going through at the time. There could be money issues, there could be somebody that dies [while making] the picture, the studio changes heads and the next person hates it. Sometimes [a director says], ‘I wish I could go back and put it all back together.’ All these things happen … But I do think once the die is cast, you have to go with it and say, ‘That’s the movie I made under those circumstances.'”

Still, Scorsese understands how fans wish they could watch a little more of their favorites.

“It’s an interesting thing,” he continued. “We would have loved to see an extended version of a number of films in the past where scenes were cut out. Now [those scenes were] cut out from the director’s cut, not from the rough cut. There’s a big difference. [Sometimes to] capitalize on [a film’s popularity] and exploit it they say, ‘This is the director’s cut.’ You should take a look at Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. I saw the full version a few days before it opened at a meeting and it was two hours and 20 minutes or so. Then MGM released their version and it was 90 minutes. We all said, ‘Oh no, it was a masterpiece,’ and wished it could be saved. The editor saved a copy and what you see now is what we saw in that meeting. That is a director’s cut. And if the editor said there was another 20 minutes that Peckinpah wanted to keep in there, I would have loved to see those 20 minutes. So I understand the idea of an audience wanting to be entertained for another 20 minutes in that world.”

Earlier this week, EW posted Scorsese giving a more specific example of rough-cut editing when we asked him about the notorious 1991 preview screening for Goodfellas, which was held in then-ultra conservative Orange County, California and sparked a battle with the studio. Scorsese described how the preview screening impacted at least two scenes of his crime drama, but not in negative ways.

The Irishman is currently ranked as Scorsese’s best-reviewed dramatic feature in the director’s career, with 100 percent acclaim on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is released in theaters Nov. 1 and comes to Netflix on Nov. 27.

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The Irishman

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  • Martin Scorsese